Archive | Flowers and Plants

Annual, perennial and interesting flowers with advice on culture, information, tips and recommended varieties

Gaillardia Bring Sunshine like Flowers to Borders

 

Gaillardia is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family part of Compositae or Asteraceae like the daisy. Gaillardia are native to North and South America. I hope they grow well in Yorkshire as I have just created a new bed from birthday presents brought up from sunnier and warmer Oxford.

As a perennial  Gaillardia have a long flowering season are commonly called blanket flower, or if confused with Rudbeckia they can be called cone flower. The daisy-like flowers are produced from early summer to early autumn in shades of orange, red and yellow, add sizzle to the garden and attracting nectar-seeking insects.

Gaillardia Specifics from Gardeners Tips

  • Gaillardia do not require deadheading  but the plants will look better and be fuller if you do cut the stems back when the flowers start to fade.
  •  Gaillardia is easy to grow but can be a short-lived perennial so divide plants every 2-3 years and encourage reseeding.
  • Grow best in full sun.
  • Gaillarida forms a slowly spreading mound.
  • Gaillarida has lance-shaped gray-green leaves.
  • Flowers are 3 – 5 inches across in various shades of yellow and red. Most have petals surrounding a center disk which produces florets. Plants grow 18 inches high by up to  24 inches wide
  •  Gaillardia x grandiflora  Common Name: Blanket Flower
  • Part of the 1,620 Asteracea genera and 23,600 species of herbaceous plants. The  12 species of Gaillardia hybridise so we see a range of colours and forms.

Sowing Gaillardia Seed Tips

  • Sow fresh seed six to eight weeks before the last  frost  in your area.
  • Use a moist but not soggy mix including some vermiculite
  • Sow three seeds in the center of the pot. Do not cover the seeds.
  • Mist over the top of the seeds.
  • Try provide a temperature of 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and eight hours of light per day.
  • To  avoid washing the seeds from the pot’s center or burying them under the soil apply water slowly when the soil becomes dry.
  • After germination remove the weakest seedlings and avoid disturbing the roots of the strongest seedling.
  • Fertilize the seedling every fortnight with a 10-10-10 nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium water-soluble fertilizer.

Suggested Gaillardia Flower Varieties

Gaillardia × grandiflora
  • Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’: popular  3-4″ flowers have a red center surrounded by yellow. And Arizona Apricot.
  • Gaillardia ‘Burgundy’: Wine-red petals with a yellow center disk that ages to burgundy.
  • Gaillardia ‘Summerina Orange’: Zingy orange shades from soft red through yellow radiating from a rosy center disk.And Sunseekers Orange.
  • Gaillardia ‘Goblin’: Large green leaves are veined in maroon. Very hardy.
  • Gaillardia ‘Smileys Giggling’ YellowStriking yellow flowers grow true from seed.


Gaillardia with slippers. It goes to show that a cool blue will tone well in the garden with the bright Gaillardia colours.

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What a Day for Hemerocallis – the Daylily

Hemerocallis better known as ‘Day Lilies’ have given a wonderful show this year!

If you want extravagant colour Hemerocallis is a plant to  consider for  your garden. They are normally happy in sunny dry conditions.

Several varieties are shown here but many more can be seen on Google.

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It is worth deadheading Daylilies to prolong blooming especially if they are grown in an individual pot. This also has the benefit of improving the appearance your Hemerocallis

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Rose Year 2018

In the UK it has been a fantastic year for flowers, no more so than an English favourite the Rose.

Parks and gardens have been over flowing with stunning blooms and scents.

2018 may be the start of a rose resurgence and I will be tempted to buy a few more bare rooted rose trees this backend.

Have I just been fortunate or has the weather restricted pests and diseases? No rust, negligible blackspot and only one plant suffering from mildew.

It may be too soon to say farewell to greenfly but I live in hope for the second flush from the HT roses.

After generally a good year for fruit and berries I wonder what to expect from rose hips this autumn. My Rambling Rector put on a good show and now I hope for a surfiet of hips. Rugosa roses needed more moisture and were one of the few poor performance in 2018.

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Glad I Planted Gladioli Again – 6 month update

Gladioli

Every dog may have it’s day but great plant species move in and out of fashion. Now March 2018 it is the turn of Gladioli to retake center stage. In the 1960’s and 70’s  Gladiolus were all the rage and for many gardeners they were top of the popularity stakes. In 2018 they are making a well deserved come back if the media are to be believed. (the media pick up from the trade who must have been undertaking some stock building activities to establish good quantities of corms for sale). I for one have been lead astray by newspaper and magazine articles, vivid coloured packaging of a vibrancy yellow Glad and some carefully targeted adverts. I get these annual urges to focus one plant or group of plants for the year and 2018 is the turn of the gladiolus.

After digging out an old bed 7×7 feet square I planned to grow some sweetpeas and Glads  so after the orders were placed I watched some ‘how too’s  on youtube’ for a refresher course.

I am not growing for showing so my Gladioli can be grown in a relatively small area hopefully with good results for cut flowers.

Results to 26 Aug 2018

Objective one has been achieved. I have the best display of cut gladioli for the house and to give away as flowers to friends and neighbors.

Objective two of a good garden display has been less successful in that my staking has led to too many curb=ved blooms and impatience has made me cut the flowers rather than let them blossom in the garden. The colour mix on the other hand has been great and showy. The two stand out colours have been a pure white and strong red.

So revisiting Gladioli with the hope of more blooms still to come:

Top 5 Gladioli Lessons

  1. There are approximately 260 species of Gladiolus largely endemic in Southern Africa. Plenty of variety to experiment with. Find out more from The British Gladioli Society
  2. Treated as annuals you can plant Gladioli quite tightly with 70 or so to a square yard. (This has worked for me this year)
  3. Plant deeper than you expect say 6″ in a trench with  sand at the base to aid drainage. (This has worked for me this year)
  4. You can get good results by starting the corms off in damp sand to get good roots.
  5. The larger the variety more more important it is to stake the plants. (A dwarf variety is disappointingly still to show any real flower this year).

Related image

 Pricilla florets with 6 – 7 per stem on erect spikes with pointed sword-like leaves.

Gladioli are the flower of choice for 40th wedding anniversaries. It is too late for me and the missus now…The official flowers of fifty years of marriage are yellow roses and violets so that will have to do.

Other GTips

Gladioli 100 Day Display

Prize Gladioli Growing & Showing

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Buying and Planting Your Tulips

Tulip Buying & Planting Tips

  • Marketing of bulbs starts earlier and earlier and this July saw some multiple chains offering pre-packed bulbs for sale. It is all very well getting ahead of the game so you get the varieties you want.
  • I belatedly have come to the conclusion that you get a better result and thus value for money from a specialist grower or retailer. Choice of variety, size and bulb condition are generally better as they have a reputation to protect.
  • Beware how you store bulbs as they can dry out (but they will also dry out in store if left hanging on one of those POS units.) If you store tulips in humid conditions they may sprout early or get mildew.
  • Normally I try and plant my Tulips by the end of December but this year I am a bit late. Still Tulips have a great capacity to catch up before April when they flower.
  • I have not been successful planting tulips in pots but I shall keep trying. Perhaps deeper in long toms is the answer; I will let you know.

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Varieties Planted

  • Monte Carlo a double yellow only 12 ” tall. They have an AGM and are reputed to be fragrant.
  • Apricot Parrot has feathered bicoloured petals. There is a bit of green on the outer petals with red and apricot shades on the inner petals. These Tulips are about 22″ tall
  • Another lower growing Tulip Greigii called Queen Ingrid at 14″ caught my eye with red petals edged in white
  • Bulbs varied in size from 10-13cm. I have planted most in pots that I can bury in the ground where there is a gap and take up quickly after flowering.
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Trials For Chrysanthemums My Trials & Tribulations


Some aspects of gardening are a trial not to say a tribulation. This year I resolved to get on with my Chrysanthemums (aka Chrysanths or Mums) and see if I could encourage enough of them to perform to a reasonable standard. So far I am failing for reasons which will become obvious.

Trials not tribulations are the genuine article at the RHS Harlow Carr and so they should be. I am presumptuous in thinking I could even get close to just one of their potted chrysanthemums.

Outdoor Mums in Pots

  • Pot in soil that is well drained, light and loamy.
  • After planting, water generously for 1-2 weeks, until the plants are well established.
  • Mums have a shallow root system so keep the soil slightly moist but not wet.
  • Feed the mums before the flower buds form to promote healthy roots, bud development, and a vigorous plant. I use liquid Tomorite but balanced slow release granules can be added to the soil when potting up.
  • Pinch your mum plant when it’s young to encourage bushier growth and more blooms.

Florists Pot Mums

  • Plants grown for indoor windowsill culture are often of a  variety unsuitable for outdoor growing. As such they should be treated with more care and are unlikely to survive outdoors overwinter.
  • Florist mums will have been treated with hormones and lighting tricks to restrict the growth and encourage flowering.
  • As pot plants the flowers last for 5 -8 weeks and are available in a range of colours including some dyed shades of blue.
  • They are generally available all year round as sold as an in flower gift.
  • The Pot Mum is  effective at cleaning the air through transpiration. Due to this you will need to water quite often as the top soil begins to dry out.

Hardy Garden Mums

  • Some varieties survive the winter out-of-doors and come back and continue performing the following season.
  • Blooming is prolifically from August to the frosts.
  • The habits are neat and compactmaking them suitablel for the front and middle of borders or in patio containers.
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Dendrobium the Wonder Genus of Orchids

There are over a thousand known species of Dendrobium and innumerable hybrids. This makes Dendrobium the second largest orchid genus in the world after Bulbophyllum.

Dendrobium cuthbertsonii
Dendrobium nagomi

Dendrobium rhodstictum
Dendrobium hibiki
Dendrobium griffithianum
Dendrobium bigibbum

Culture Tips.

  • Dendrobiums like their roots confined in small pots. for good drainage use bark, perlag and charcoal to make up an open mix which drains easily.
  • Repot when either the compost becomes acid and soggy or when the pot is full of roots.
  • Plants from the mountains of New Guinea like a little moss mixed with the bark or they can be grown on slabs of bark or tree fern on a mossy bed. Such slabs need daily misting for most of the year.
  • Over enthusiastic flowering of small dendrobiums can lead to a premature death.
  • Small dendrobiums sometimes benefit from a steady gentle air flow.
  • In winter temperatures can drop to 40°C when you should not water or feed but give plenty of light and air movement. Buds develop in spring and new growths appear. Water sparingly until the new shoots have grown good roots then feed weekly during maximum growth.
  • Free draining potting mixes should always be used containing coarse bark perlite, sphagnum moss and even small pebbles if a little weight is needed.
  • Propagation is by division of the larger clump when it has filled the pot. Some Dendrobiums produce offsets. Generally they do not like any root disturbance.
  • Australian species and hybrids include the ‘Rock Lily’ flowers last only 3-4 weeks but Dendrobium bigibbum is often grow for cut flowers.
  • Dendrobium like plenty of bright filtered sunlight but avoid direct sunlight that may scorch the leaves. They can be difficult to re-flower if they do not receive sufficient light.
  • Never allow plants to stand in water as it may rot the roots.
  • Moss loving species can be grouped as either Himalayan, Australian or New Guinea (including Singapore). They can be grown on chunks of bark or tree fern on a mossy bed.

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Cyclamen that Flower in Winter

The late season flowering of Cyclamen is just one of the reasons to grow these useful flowers. There are many species of Cyclamen and below is a special selection for Autumn and Winter flowering.

C. coum is widely grown in the United Kingdom and there are many colours and leaf forms. Whites and pink flowers predominate but bright red varieties are available.

C.libanoticum is often grown in pots to flower January – April. It can withstand severe cold but dislikes wet soil.

C. persicum is tender and forms the stock for many florists Cyclamen. The flowers are generally held high above the leaves.

C. hederifolium flowers pink a bit earlier than some varieties. Leaves appear after flowering. Plants are best sited under shade as provided by a deciduous tree. The underside of the leaves are red coloured.

Other winter flowering species include C. pseudibericum and C. trochopteranthum a horizontal growing variety.

For more information on the Cyclamen species read any Guide by Chris Grey-Wilson

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British View of American Landscape

Some time ago in the pre-Trump era the west lawn at the British Museum  showed plants from North America landscape. The plants were provided in partnership with Kew but the photographs were mine taken in September.
I now wish I had also visited to see and take pictures of earlier spring and summer flowers fro N America.

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Amongst the more colourful flowers were a range of ‘tickseed’ which is the American name for Coreopsis. I like to grow these airy prairie plants even in darkest Yorkshire and you may see why from these photos.

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Trust me to get a photo of mildew! Must try again.

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The Museum garden had a lot going on in both leaf and flower forms.
The signage was good but it wasn’t obvious to me which of three zones each plant portrayed; Woodland, Prairie or Wetland.
I am sure the wetland was represented by the wonderful insect eating Pitcher plants.
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Older Pitcher plants below.

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I am sure it wasn’t intentional on the part of Kew to include these British Rockies. I am sure the real thing are more awe inspiring.

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For me the September light set off these New England Asters a proper treat.

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Cone flowers Echinacea purpurea held there own!

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Orange Coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida. The seeds feed finches and Native Americans used a wash from the plant for snake bites, earache and for a variety of other medicinal purposes.
First known in England in 1789 when they were described by Wm Aiton the first curator at Kew and ‘His Majesty’s Gardener at
Kew and Richmond ‘.

 

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Banana Republic and Musa Review

Banana hand

I have just finished eating a Fyffes banana grown in Costa Rica. They were certified by the Rainforest Alliance and were sold as ‘Ripe, snack size bananas’ and a very appropriate  name it was. In our fruit bowl we also have ‘organic Fairtrade bananas fro the Dominican Republic cutesy of the EEC at least until brexit by which time they will be well overripe.

This encouraged me to dig out an old post with photos from Kew in 2010. I was in the middle of a series of posts on fruit trees from exotic climes and realise that the Banana didn’t quite fit. Bananas are herbs and do not grow on trees. The stem,  can grow quite tall in some species and is really just matted together leaves.

Therefore I offered some of my photographs to show different varieties of Banana growing in Kew hot house and Madeira.

Kew Red Banana
Red Banana

Musa coccinea Red banana
Very Red Banana Musa coccinea

Bananas
Commercial Banana plantation

Banana
Banana in Flower

Banana plantation
Banana Crop in Madeira

Read these articles for more information.

Banana growing in UK
Exotic Gardens to Visit to see Banana growing in UK

Other Musa Species and Genra

  • Plantains are  a cooking variety of Musa and a member of the banana family
  • Wild banana species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana generally have seeds but cultivated bananas are almost always sterile and seedless
  • Wiki as usual has an authoritative list of Bananas and an explanation of their classification.
  • The false banana or ensete is a member of the Musa genra
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